Rachel Sylvester in The Times today has the first on a planned book, dubbed The Purple Book, that will seek to set out the agenda for the Labour modernisers.
The book is about taking New Labour forward rather than burying it as Ed Miliband would have the party do. The name, of course echoes the The Orange book put together by the Lib Dems in the hope of renewing that party.
The book as well as making sure that New Labour voices are heard and can contribute to Ed Miliband’s policy review is not just a rehash of the Blair glory years. Rather it is about looking for new ideas that reconnect Labour with a much wider group of people as Tony Blair was once able to do with New Labour. Ideas being talked about include empowering consumers against big business and creating a non-state social insurance scheme for welfare.
“The Purple Book isn’t an academic exercise,” says one of the organisers. “Ed Miliband has said he has a blank page for his policy review and we want to start making some notes on that page. This is about what Labour should be saying in 2015, not what’s happening right now. It’s not the abandonment of new Labour, it’s the next stage of new Labour.”
The choice of words is deliberate. One of Mr Miliband’s first declarations, on becoming leader of the Labour Party, was that “the era of new Labour is over”. The Purple Book brigade wants to ensure that he does not abandon the basic principles that won three elections. Although Labour is consistently ahead in the polls, is winning by-elections and looks set to clean up at next month’s local elections, many MPs are sceptical that their leader will be walking into Downing Street in 2015.
“There’s a real danger of a false dawn where Labour starts to do quite well, the coalition falters and we retreat to our comfort zone,” says a Shadow Cabinet minister. “But we can’t just be the party of protest. The new Labour brand may have become contaminated but the underlying principles are as relevant today as they’ve ever been.”
The Purple Book project is being organised by Progress which is promising a wideranging and detailed blue print. No word on whether David Miliband will be contributing. Those who will include Tessa Jowell, Liam Byrne and Alan Milburn among others.